When times are hard, you make do with what you have. That was the principle behind a Depression Era pie that made use of science and water:
Even among the genre of desserts known as “desperation pies,” “hard times pie” seems particularly dire. Its other moniker, “water pie,” sounds like a practical joke or urban myth. Like stone soup, it implies conjuring something from nothing. The ingredient list is so minimalistic that it challenges what, on an existential level, even qualifies as pie. Plain, old H₂O forms the base of the filling, along with sugar, flour, butter, and a little vanilla. And yet, through a little alchemical magic, these ingredients transform into a wobbly, translucent custard.
“I think a lot of Depression-era cooking was really quite genius,” says Genevieve Yam, an editor at Epicurious who previously worked as a pastry chef at Per Se and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Yam finds something intriguing about the anonymity of the inventors of these resourceful recipes. No one knows who was behind the first “magic cake” or “wacky cake,” although we can surmise they were women with a better grasp of chemistry than history ever gave them credit for.
Foodstuff was scarce and people had to improvise. While these pies weren’t all water, they mostly were and had liberal uses of butter. And for some added flavour, why not try a Sprite pie (which is basically the same except carbonated and more sugary)?
(via Atlas Obscura)